Neurosurgeon Salary: Highest Paying by State, Starting Wages, More [2020]

A neurosurgeon is a physician who examines and diagnoses disorders or injuries to the central nervous system. This physician performs surgeries on the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves that assist in treating these injuries, conditions, or chronic ailments. A neurosurgeon is the professional responsible for the removal of tumors, relieving chronic pain, and correcting human deformities.

A neurosurgeon is sometimes referred to as a brain surgeon, neurologist, head surgeon, “neuro surgeon”, and spine surgeon.

Neurosurgeon Job Description

Duties and responsibilities of a neurosurgeon can be the following:

  • Overseeing and coordinating the teams of neurosurgeons and surgeons in the operating theater.
  • Ordering, performing, and examining the results of diagnostic tests (like MRIs, PET scans, CT scans, and more).
  • Assisting with unscheduled emergency surgeries and procedures.
  • Working closely with physicians, psychiatrists, therapists, and other neurologists to consult on patient issues and ailments.
  • Perform surgeries on the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves.
  • Remove tumors, relieve chronic pain, and treat wounds or vascular disorders.
  • Assist in treating Parkinson’s and epilepsy in patients.
  • Perform surgeries on patients who have hydrocephalus, an abnormal build-up of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain.

Neurosurgeon Education Requirements

Neurosurgeons are required to have a doctor of medicine (MD) degree or a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) degree. Many neurosurgeons place their undergraduate efforts in the study of advanced biological sciences, which can lead to meeting the necessary requirements for medical school.

The neurosurgeon student must graduate from an accredited bachelor’s degree program with pre-med (pre-medical) prerequisite courses. This includes courses in microbiology, biochemistry, and human anatomy. Additional courses that are recommended for the undergraduate include English, mathematics, statistics, and advanced mathematics.

In order to be considered for most medical school programs, the student must have a 3.5 GPA.

Thirty months of electives (neuropathology, neuroradiology, research, and/or more neurosurgery) are possible in areas of special interest, like complex spine surgery, endovascular or pediatric neurosurgery, or non-clinical neurosciences. Once completing their undergraduate study, a prospective neurosurgeon must sit for the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). The MCAT is administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) and the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM). The test consists of multiple-choice questionnaires and is designed to test the candidates’ training, skills sets, and overall comprehension of medicine.

Licensing requirements are necessary for prospective candidates to start practicing professionally. For students who chose to receive a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO), passion the United States Licensing Examination (USMLE) and have a passing score on the United States Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA).

This accelerates the student to their second part of medical school, the second two years of the schooling called “rotations.” During this time, the students have the opportunity to experience a variety of medical specialties under the supervision of experienced physicians. After these two years, the medical student must take the United States Medical Licensing Exam or the United States Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination.

From here, the students are required to complete one year as a hospital intern which leads to residency. The physicians enter a residency program in neurological surgery, which lasts between six and seven years. The primary focus is the training in neurosurgery, neuropathology, and neuroradiology. Neurosurgery residencies are assigned through the Electronic Residency Application Service (ERAS), which is administered by the Association of American Medical Colleges. For more information visit the American Board of Neurological Surgery.

Top schools for a doctor of osteopathic medicine degree:

Neurosurgeon Salary Information

On average, a neurosurgeon can earn anywhere from $211,020 per year to $278,810 per year. And a junior-level neurosurgeon beginning their salary at roughly $199,920 per year. And a starting level or “entry-level” neurosurgeon having a starting salary of $94,960 per year.

The average annual salary of a neurosurgeon in the United States is $255,110 per year. With wages typically starting at $94,960 per year. The states with the highest compensation for a neurosurgeon include Alabama, Maryland, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, New Jersey, and Wisconsin. With states that pay the lowest for a neurosurgeon being Texas, New York, North Dakota, Michigan, Iowa, and California.

The state that pays the lowest for a neurosurgeon is Florida. While the state that pays the highest for a neurosurgeon is Nebraska.

Starting wages for a neurosurgeon are $94,960 per year. While experienced neurosurgeons can expect to earn upwards of $777,789 per year. Each neurosurgeon is required to have the same level of education, a doctor of medicine (MD) degree or a doctor of osteopathic medicine (DO) degree with the completed United States Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination.

Median annual wage and salary information by job title:

Neurosurgeon Salary by State (United States)

Salary and compensation information by state in the United States.

Top paying states for neurosurgeons

States that compensate the highest for neurosurgeons.

  • Arizona: $282,080 median annual salary.
  • Delaware: $277,280 median annual salary.
  • Kansas: $282,940 median annual salary.
  • Mississippi: $280,350 median annual salary.
  • New Mexico: $280,430 median annual salary.

Lowest paying states for neurosurgeons

States that compensate the lowest for neurosurgeons.

  • California: $221,490 median annual salary.
  • Florida: $211,640 median annual salary.
  • Iowa: $231,450 median annual salary.
  • North Dakota: $219,390 median annual salary.
  • Washington: $240,910 median annual salary.

All neurosurgeon wages by state

Full list of neurosurgeon salary information by state.

  • Alabama: $278,810 median annual salary.
  • Arkansas: $266,630 median annual salary.
  • Arizona: $282,080 median annual salary.
  • California: $221,490 median annual salary.
  • Colorado: $244,940 median annual salary.
  • Connecticut: $224,570 median annual salary.
  • District of Columbia: $244,230 median annual salary.
  • Delaware: $277,280 median annual salary.
  • Florida: $211,640 median annual salary.
  • Georgia: $273,450 median annual salary.
  • Hawaii: $270,240 median annual salary.
  • Iowa: $231,450 median annual salary.
  • Idaho: $241,030 median annual salary.
  • Illinois: $243,350 median annual salary.
  • Indiana: $259,850 median annual salary.
  • Kansas: $282,940 median annual salary.
  • Kentucky: $268,550 median annual salary.
  • Louisiana: $253,630 median annual salary.
  • Massachusetts: $242,790 median annual salary.
  • Maryland: $284,120 median annual salary.
  • Maine: $286,810 median annual salary.
  • Michigan: $244,710 median annual salary.
  • Minnesota: $285,060 median annual salary.
  • Missouri: $248,250 median annual salary.
  • Mississippi: $280,350 median annual salary.
  • Montana: $266,470 median annual salary.
  • North Carolina: $278,260 median annual salary.
  • North Dakota: $219,390 median annual salary.
  • Nebraska: $287,890 median annual salary.
  • New Jersey: $285,850 median annual salary.
  • New Mexico: $280,430 median annual salary.
  • New York: $250,620 median annual salary.
  • Ohio: $267,680 median annual salary.
  • Oklahoma: $279,020 median annual salary.
  • Pennsylvania: $252,140 median annual salary.
  • Rhode Island: $257,000 median annual salary.
  • South Carolina: $264,930 median annual salary.
  • Tennessee: $271,680 median annual salary.
  • Texas: $238,080 median annual salary.
  • Virginia: $264,160 median annual salary.
  • Vermont: $272,550 median annual salary.
  • Washington: $240,910 median annual salary.
  • Wisconsin: $272,020 median annual salary.

Salary information data provided by CareerExplorer.

author: patrick algrim
About the author

Patrick Algrim is an experienced executive who has spent a number of years in Silicon Valley hiring and coaching some of the world’s most valuable technology teams. Patrick has been a source for Human Resources and career related insights for Forbes, Glassdoor, Entrepreneur, Recruiter.com, SparkHire, and many more.

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